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Agoraphobes On 'Ideal World' Of Lockdowns And Social Distancing

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Agoraphobes On 'Ideal World' Of Lockdowns And Social Distancing

Lockdown restrictions are being gradually eased across the UK, and with it, you can feel a wave of relief sweeping the land.

But while the past year has been a seemingly never-ending ordeal for most of us, it's been an altogether different experience for people with agoraphobia.

The anxiety disorder is characterised by a fear of being in situations from which escape would be difficult should something go wrong, or if it is perceived to be unsafe.

Open spaces, rammed pubs and busy shopping centres are typical examples of environments agoraphobes fear - all of which have been stripped away during successive lockdowns.

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As such, there have been elements of lockdown life which have come as a 'huge relief' to Shanice Evans. The 26-year-old expectant mother elected to stay at home before it was mandated by the government, having had agoraphobia for several years.

Shanice's lifestyle wasn't greatly impacted by lockdown restrictions. Credit: Shanice Evans
Shanice's lifestyle wasn't greatly impacted by lockdown restrictions. Credit: Shanice Evans

"Lockdown hasn't been much different for me," she told LADbible.

"Because I can't go out alone, I already spent all day at home while my partner was at work.

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"Definitely having less people in places has been a huge relief for me, and most people keep to the two-metre distance, which helps."

Now the Open University student, from Cumbernauld, Scotland, is wary about society returning to 'normal'.

She said: "I've felt less anxiety when there's been less people in places and I'm not looking forward to everywhere being packed again.

"I want to start trying to get out alone now while places are still quieter, so I can hopefully get out properly when my baby's here. But I'm due when everything's meant to be going back to 'normal' so I'm really anxious about that."

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Shanice has enjoyed public spaces being less crowded. Credit: Shanice Evans
Shanice has enjoyed public spaces being less crowded. Credit: Shanice Evans

For New Yorker Colleen Lally, who has lived in London the past 14 years, lockdown was like an 'ideal world'.

Reflecting on when restrictions were eased previously, the 45-year-old said: "The first time it happened, I was like 'Oh, do we really have to go outside?'

"I was enjoying staying at home cooking, watching movies. It was like a proper holiday, and you know, it was my ideal world.

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"Everybody was complaining and moaning and stuff, and I was like 'No, this is great'.

"But then as time wore on, even now I've come to that realisation it's about time we get out."

However, while the majority of us can't wait to see the back of social distancing, Colleen would prefer it to stick around.

Colleen hopes the pandemic will bring about enduring changes which benefit agoraphobes. Credit: Colleen Lally
Colleen hopes the pandemic will bring about enduring changes which benefit agoraphobes. Credit: Colleen Lally
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She explained: "I love it. Like, nobody can come near you. You have to keep your distance away from each other.

"When people came too close to you before, you'd kind of just be like 'Oh, right' and not do anything. But now you can take a step back, and be that obnoxious person - but they can't say anything, because they're like, 'No, just trying to adhere to the rules'.

"Whereas before, they'd look at you like, 'Oh, you little weirdo. Like, why are you doing it?'."

Now, like the rest of us, Colleen is keen to get outside and meet up with friends, but she hopes long term changes that make life easier for agoraphobes - such as increased working from home - will become commonplace post-pandemic.

For now, she has a reservation at a restaurant to catch up with friends once hospitality reopens - but she'll be giving the first few weeks after restrictions lift a miss.

She said: "I personally need to do this. I need to just start going out I need to be functioning in society again.

"But not the initial two weeks, because everybody's gonna be like jam-packed in pubs and squished together. And that's a nightmare."

If you have anxiety, stress, anxiety-based depression or a phobia that's affecting your daily life, you can get help from Anxiety UK by calling 03444 775 774, texting 07537 416 905 or visiting the charity's website.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

Topics: lockdown, Mental Health, Interesting, Community

Jake Massey
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